Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has slammed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan over the latter's dismissal of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) regarding Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş.
“Yesterday, the European Court of Human Rights gave a decision with regards to Selahattin Demirtaş. He [Erdoğan] said yesterday, 'I will not abide by that decision, we will not abide by that decision.' Who are you, who are you?” Kılıçdaroğlu said on Dec. 24 during a party meeting.
“If you are not going to abide by the Constitutional Court's decisions, if lower courts will not abide by the Constitutional Court's decisions, if we are not going to abide by the ECHR's decisions, then which decisions are we going to abide by?” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Kılıçdaroğlu said that it is impossible to “respect” the state in an atmosphere in which Erdoğan uses the judiciary as a tool to advance his political agendas. “Let the courts' decisions which are in line with Erdoğan's instructions be abided by, and then we are expected to respect the state. No, this cannot happen. We do not accept that,” he said.
Kılıçdaroğlu's comments came after Erdoğan said during a Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that the ECHR's rulings are not binding for Turkey.
"No rulings were issued in our own courts. The ECHR issued this ruling when the domestic legal means are not yet exhausted," Erdoağn said on Dec. 22, while the AKP decided to look into the ruling after the translation of the 150-page decision is completed.
"This ruling is not binding for us," Erdoğan, who often targets Demirtaş in his speeches, added.
A day later, Erdoğan once again slammed the ECHR during his address to AKP members in parliament, saying that the ruling is hypocritical and only Turkish courts can rule on his case.
"If the ECHR wants to be respected by Turkey, its needs to question its own contradictions," he said.
The Grand Chamber of the ECHR ruled on Dec. 22 that Demirtaş must be freed immediately.
The court said Turkey's justification for his detention longer than four years on terrorism-related offenses was a pretext for limiting political debate.
Opposition members and rights groups have accused the government of pressing the judiciary to silence Erdoğan's opponents, particularly since an attempted coup in July 2016.
Erdoğan and his ruling AKP have regularly denied such charges and said courts make independent decisions.